Cover Image: Capture the Crown

Capture the Crown

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Member Reviews

I'd been saving Capture the Crown by @jennifer_estep_author as a treat book, because I had so enjoyed the first trilogy set in this world. This newest series starter is JUST as good as the first set, and Gemma Ripley, who we met as a child in the previous books, is a fantastic new voice. One of the things I love about spinoff series is having a new strong narrator to give a different perspective on the world. Jennifer Estep aces this, giving Gemma a voice wholly her own (and a nice contrast to previous main character Evie). While the court intrigue theme keeps the same tone as previous books, the shift in characters (and, let's be honest, romantic pairing) gives the world a fresh look.

I loved Gemma as a minor character, and she rises to the occasion of leading her own story. I also love seeing the way one of the previous series villains has grown into a more ambiguous role. She's in no way reformed, of course, but she's become something more--in a way that reminds me of the HERO of the first book. That's a very cool development, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the next book takes us!
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Capture the Crown will keep you up as you read this book. So much is happening that you are always sitting on the edge. And that's the good thing for a YA fantasy genre book. You want to know everything yet you want to be surprise as well. So expect the unexpected for this book. It does have a bit of world-building so keep that in mind. Also, it does have a bit of romance. The romance trope is enemies to lovers trope.
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I loved Estep's Crown of Shards series so I was really excited that her next series was going to be set in the same world. 
Gemma Ripley's reputation for being a spoiled princess is well known across the kingdoms. What the public doesn't know is that she often goes under cover as a spy. While undercover, she comes across her mortal enemy Prince Leonidas, a Mortan royal. She ends up saving his life and he does the same not long after.
This was a good fantasy romance book and a good start series. I wasn't as hooked like I was with The Crown of Shard's series but I do look forward to the next book.
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I probably should have read the title/description more when I started this but I was just so excited for MORE that I jumped right in thinking it was a continuation of Evie's story.

So, sadly, it took me a little while to get in the mindset of newish characters, but once I did, I was absolutely hooked again.

Gemma's inner tormoil and self doubt is so easy to relate to and sadly can be overwhelming at times, but we do see her make some progress. 

I'm cautiously optimistic for a HEA for her and Leonidas.

*Digital review copy provided by NetGalley and the publisher.
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As a huge fan of the Crown of Shards trilogy, when I saw that Jennifer Estep started another trilogy set in the same world, I requested that review copy as quickly as I could. I regret nothing. Capture the Crown has everything I loved about the Crown of Shards trilogy. It's sexy, clever, and violent. Best of all, it never follows the easy path. Ms. Estep is not afraid to do terrible things to her characters or put them in impossible situations, and I love the frisson of fear you get while reading it knowing that there is the potential for much violence. Gemma is not the spoiled princess she appears to be, but neither is she the greatest at spycraft. There are so many mysteries and hidden agendas at play throughout the story that the future stories should be just as stellar.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

While this is a standalone series, would highly recommend reading her Crown of Shards series first as this takes place 15 years after the conclusion of that one; so excited she brought back Leonidas (Leo) and Gemma. Loved their storylines in the original series.

It was a bit difficult at first to get into this book - great writing, plot development, etc. - but didn't quite connect with Gemma initially. Once they delved deeper into the spy aspect for Gemma, I definitely got invested and enjoyed the plots-within-plots and her partnership with Leo.

Can't wait for the next book in the series!
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I absolutely loved this book! It hooked me so quickly and I was instantly attached to Gemma. I loved the spying, courtly intrigue, animal bond, and unique magic system! Highly recommend!

Buzzwords:
-courtly intrigue 
-spies 
-enemies to attraction
-animal bonds
-unique magic system
-twists and turns
-strong female lead

Content Warnings: 
-violence
-blood
-torture
-implied sexual assault/unwanted sexual advances
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Rating: 3
Similar recommendations: Ash Princess, Throne of Glass, 아이딘 1

Capture the Crown follows Gemma Ripley, a 29-year-old princess who has established herself as a spoiled princess to cover her true identity as her country's elite spy. As a mind magier, she can read people's minds, sense their emotions, and obtain secrets that would otherwise remain uncovered in enemy territory. And in enemy territory is where she finds herself now. Her current mission is to determine who is stealing tearstone deposits from one of her family's royal mines, but whens he encounters her mortal enemy Prince Leonidas Morricone of Morta, she finds herself joining forces with him and discovering that sparks a flying between them in return. The closer Gemma gets to ascertaining the culprit of the stolen tearstone, the more she uncovers of a deadly plot that could destroy the world as she knows it.

This book is your run-of-the-mill fantasy novel. It's a decent read but not particularly memorable. To be quite honest, I found myself zoning in and out more often than I would have liked. This might be because I found it very similar to Laura Sebastian's Ash Princess with the magical mines and the crowns of enemy and ally.

It differs from typical fantasy novels in its use of an older protagonist. My only caveat with it was that she acted more so 16 than 29, and this off-put me so much. I was excited to read a more mature protagonist navigate through her set predicament, but this was not it.

Overall, Capture the Crown is a mediocre read but not one I'd recommend at the outset.
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This is my first book by Jennifer Estep, and I know this is a spin off from an earlier series she has, but I didn’t feel like I had missed anything by not reading it.   Although I may add it to my TBR list now. I loved the character of Gemma and Leo, the intricacies of their complicated history and current situation.  I became attached very quickly.  And I hate that I have to wait so long for the next book!!!

*I received this book as an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC) through NetGalley. I received this copy free in exchange for my honest review.*
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An epic fantasy with a strong female lead.. This novel is action packed, edge of your seat good.  Murder, betrayal, espionage create a captivating and immersive story.
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A OK story. It got off to a slow start but picked up about half way through. The characters were interesting.  Some of the backstory was presented in the previous trilogy.  This does stand alone but reading the previous books would help with who was who and what they did.?
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4.5 stars = I loved it! Would re-read.

Loved the first book in this spin-off series set in the world of the Crown of Shards novels. Lots of new characters and new adventures, but the same great world-building and setting. I can't wait to see how this new series unfolds. Highly recommend! (Language, violence)
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Gemma Ripley, Princess of Andvari, mind magier and spy, is on a mission to determine who is stealing tearstone from a Ripley mine when she crosses paths with Prince Leonidas Morricone of Morta, her mortal enemy. Her mission is complicated when an attempt on her life is made and she’s brought behind enemy lines. In Morta, Gemma takes the opportunity to partner with Leo to uncover an ambitious plot for power. As the danger heightens, so do the feelings between Gemma and Leo, and they realize too late that they are mere pawns in a dangerous game orchestrated by Queen Maeven Morricone. Who will come out victorious? 

This was a tale of finding one’s inner strength, righting wrongs, and forgiveness. There was political intrigue, betrayal, disguised identity, enemies-to-lovers romance, angst, trauma, and torture. My favorite element was the character friendships. I’d love a Grimley or Reiko in my life! The plot was also interesting, especially the plot twists and betrayals, which I hadn’t seen coming. However, I didn’t connect, as I had hoped to, with Gemma. I thought that she didn’t act her age (whiny) and could rarely control her powers, which grew rather frustrating considering all the action scenes in the book. Moreover, I found the world-building excessive -- like, too descriptive, that I wanted to skim large chunks of writing. That being said, I did read this all in one sitting, so I was hooked. Although I read the Crown of Shards series prior to reading this series, I don’t think it’s necessary to. However, I would, because I really enjoyed that series!

Thanks to NetGalley, Harper Voyager, and Jennifer Estep for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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I was so excited to read this book and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed the series which this book was a spin off of and now this book which I hope will turn into another series. I love the world building and the characters. The political and fantastical elements worked seamlessly together.
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I really enjoyed reading this book! I loved the Crown of Shards trilogy so I was thrilled to get the chance to read more books set in that world. I have to admit that I have a hard time remembering much about secondary characters once I have finished a book so I really knew nothing about Gemma, Leo, or any of the characters but some of the events mentioned in the story were very familiar to me. This would be a perfect place to start if you were thinking about reading any of the books set in this world.

Gemma is known as a pampered princess but the reality is that she works to protect her kingdom by working as a spy. She has been working in a mine when she stumbles upon more than she bargained for when she crosses paths with Prince Leo of Morta. She doesn’t hesitate to take full advantage of the opportunity to go undercover in Morta even though it is a risky move. Before it is all over, she will find herself in more danger than she could have ever imagined.

This was an exciting story! I was really worried about Gemma, Leo, and the rest of the characters for much of the book. There were a few scenes that were really intense. I was never quite sure who Gemma should trust. I liked Leo and they had a lot of chemistry together but he is loyal to his mother, Queen Maeven. I enjoyed the magic in this story. I love Gemma’s abilities and I have a feeling that she will master even more skills as the series progresses. I really loved the gargoyle, Grimley, and the strix, Lyra, and look forward to seeing more of them in future books.

I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was an excellent start to a promising series set in a world that I already love. The characters were very well done and there was plenty of intense action to keep the pages turning. I cannot wait to read more of this series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Harper Voyager via NetGalley.
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Is Gemma Ripley a princess or spy or both? This story follows Gemma as she tries to figure out who is stealing her country's tearstone and why. During her investigations, Gemma encounters her mortal enemy - Prince Leonidas. Prince Leonidas gets himself into a bit of trouble due to his complicated family life and Gemma finds herself saving his life. Then Gemma gets into some trouble of her own and Leonidas comes to the rescue. They end up working together to solve the mystery of the missing tearstone, but can Gemma really trust Leonidas? This book is full of intrigue, magic, friendship, and betrayal.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I haven't read any of the author's other books but I know it's in the same world, so I'm definitely going to be checking them out. I'm a sucker for a good fantasy world so this was right up my alley. Highly recommend!
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4 stars

You can read all of my reviews at Nerd Girl Loves Books.

I loved this first book in a new YA Fantasy trilogy set in the same world as the author's Crown of Shards books. Here, we meet Princess Gemma Ripley, whose frivolous reputation hides her secret identity as a spy, and her skills as a powerful mind magier.

Gemma goes undercover with her loyal gargoyle Grimley to see who is stealing tearstone from her family's mines. While sneaking around she crosses paths with Prince Leonidas Morricone (Leo) of Morta, one of her family's mortal enemies. When Gemma gets into trouble she finds herself pairing up with Leo to uncover the mystery of the missing tearstone. Gemma never dreamed she would be working with Leo, and is surprised and disturbed when she finds herself attracted to him. Both royals will need all the skill, and luck, they can muster to get out of the increasing trouble they find themselves in.

This book caught my attention from the start. I really enjoyed the previous series, which is set in the same world about 15 or so years before the events in this trilogy. Gemma is a strong character, but as is typical in these books, there is something holding her back from achieving her full potential. She is challenged multiple times throughout the book until she's able to push through and take control of her powers. I think perseverance and belief in oneself are an important messages that can never be stressed enough. Even in a YA Fantasy. :-)

Leo is the typical YA brooding love interest with his own secrets and issues. We don't learn much about him as this book is focused on setting up Gemma and the long-term difficulties she will face throughout the trilogy, but I expect we will learn more about him in the next books. Some of the book is formulaic and there is a bit of repetition regarding the Seven Spires massacre (from the previous series) and the couple's childhood interactions that could have been omitted, but this book is such a fun read that those issues are minor irritants.

This is a good first book in a new fun and exciting trilogy and I am really looking forward to the next book in the series. You may miss some nuances in the story if you haven't read the Crown of Shards series, but there is enough background in this book that you could read it without having read the previous series and still be able to enjoy it. However, I highly recommend you read the Crown of Shards series because it is SO GOOD!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and Harper Voyager. All opinions are my own.
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I was really excited about this release from the moment it was announced. Having read and enjoyed the Crown of Shards trilogy that takes place in the same world, I was excited to be back. I will say that I was slightly disappointed with this offering. 

Let’s begin with what I liked about the book. The world. Jennifer Estep did a really great job building the world and the magic system. It’s full of beauty and whimsy, but also feels like danger can lurk around any corner. 

Another aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was that Lyria, the Strix and Grimmley, the gargoyle, went from feeling like pets in the first trilogy, to being fully fleshed out characters. They were allowed to have their own personalities and motivations. It was interesting to see how Estep integrated them into the story as main characters and not simply peripheral characters. 

In general, the premise of the story is intriguing. The family rivalry and blood grudges were easy to lose myself in, but there were a few glaring missteps that caused the story to fall a bit flat. 

First, the mention of the “Seven Spire Massacre” became so tedious, that I almost decided to turn it into a drinking game. For anyone who did not read the original trilogy, it is important to understand the impact that the tragedy had on the main characters as well as the overall story, but it was a lot. The constant repetition took away from the story and frustrated me as a reader. 

Another issue was the inconsistency of Gemma as a main character. On the one hand, she sees herself as a broken, cowardly, out of control “little girl” that can’t seem to exorcise her childhood ghosts. That’s fair, given the trauma she endured. On the other hand, however, the choices she makes throughout the story do not line up with her reflection of herself. It makes the character feel much younger than her 28 years. I kept forgetting how old she was, so some of her more grownup actions and motivations felt jarring. 

Lastly, I did not enjoy the prospect of romance being such a prominent plot device. The original trilogy was action and intrigue with a hint of romance, this first book was the exact opposite. The idea that their families are sworn enemies, but they have an undeniable attraction to one another, is a story as old as time. Still, I felt that the story itself was solid and Estep did not need to use the prospect of romance as a crutch. 

Overall, I thought the book was okay and I would like to continue the series.
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As a full on disclaimer, this reader is a hardcore fan of Jennifer Estep’s books and has been for many many years, but it’s been a hot minute, and this obsession of mine, isn’t letting up. I’d apologise, but really, I’m not even a teensy bit sorry about it. There are also mild spoilers through this review, so don’t keep reading if that will make you want to not read the book because you should definitely be reading this book ASAP.

Diving right in, because I can’t contain my excitement here, Capture the Crown is the first book in a spin-off series to Estep’s Crown of Shards trilogy, this new series is titled Gargoyle Queen and I need all the details on when I can expect book two, ‘cause I’m hooked! Which, PS, was also epic AF, so if you haven’t read it yet, jump on it! But never fear, you don’t have to have read the first trilogy to understand what’s going on in Capture the Crown.

Capture the Crown over-delivers in each and every aspect of what you’d expect from a novel written by Estep. Romance and intrigue, layered and detailed worldbuilding, both relatable and swoonworthy characters, a whole lot of edge-of-your-seat action, and perfectly timed quick-witted banter sprinkled in there to ease the readers tense shoulders at just the right time. And for those of you who are new to Estep’s writing, any fan of fantasy novels in general will adore this book. But, be warned, this book is by no means just another fantasy novel that’s interchangeable with a shelf full of others and you can trust me on this one because my home library is full of fantasy novels of every kind. But I can wax poetic about my books later… moving on to the good stuff…

Oh. My. Giddy. Gargoyle.

I mean first off… the main character Gemma Ripley has a gargoyle named Grimley…who is so adorable I literally had to put down the book at one point and go find one of my fur-babies to give all the want to squish your face, give me kisses, and loves and cuddles because I was in danger of doing it to my book. And don’t even get me started on the personality Estep has written for not only Grimley, but for other creature companions in the novel. Their antics kept me chuckling throughout the entire book.

Second, I want to be her when I grow up. Gemma’s a girl who knows how to run a long con—a girl after my own con-woman trope loving heart—and enjoys the fact that no one knows that she’s actually got the upper hand. And I’m not gonna lie, I love how she didn’t feel an ounce of guilt about having to fool those around her. She’s a woman on a mission, and isn’t apologising for doing what she’s got to do to keep her family and her kingdom safe.

Third, she’s flawed. And not just in a “we threw this in there to give her an edge” kinda way, but in a well-thought-out and realistic way. Without going into details, I will say Gemma has some trauma from her past that gives her some anxiety and Estep didn’t shy from letting the reader experience this with Gemma on the page. I not only found this relatable, as someone who suffers from anxiety, but I felt it really rounded out Gemma’s character. This new willingness to include characters that actually struggle with anxiety within the fantasy genre, let alone the fantasy romance (#Romantacy) genre, is refreshing to see not only included for a main character, but done well, and not just glazed over.

True to the synopsis, Gemma is a spy…and a damned good one because pretty much everyone is fooled by her spoiled princess of Andvari persona. She’s my favourite type of heroine in a fantasy romance novel, witty, resourceful, fierce, and unwavering in her determination to find out just who is stealing the tearstone from the royal mines and threatening her loved ones.

So not only do we have a badass, yet charmingly flawed, undercover princess spy, who’s on her own behind enemy lines… We’ve got a devilishly handsome hero who just happens to be Gemma’s sworn mortal enemy, Prince Leonidas Morricone of Morta. And let me just warn you now, Prince Leo is going to give every fantasy-book-boyfriend-having reader out there, all the feels.

Leo is a very well written anti-hero who kept me guessing as he wasn’t always honest or honourable, but that veiled secrecy about his character really caught my attention. His family is very different from Gemma’s, like night and day. His family is more cutthroat, try to kill you in your sleep, cruel, where Gemma’s is supportive and caring. Despite his upbringing and serious trust issues, it’s clear that Leo does protect those he cares about. I’m dying to know more about how he’ll develop through the series because his family’s manipulation is straight up something out of the toxic relationship handbook, if there ever was one. But moving past the heart-racing twists and turns, as well as all the action packed into this book…

Holy hotness on a stick!

The sparks between these two fly off the pages! And by sparks I mean, keep a bucket of water nearby just in case you need to dump it on yourself, or your reading device, because you might combust, sparks. Queen of the slowburn, Estep keeps the line of tension between these two pulled as taut as a tightrope as they struggle to trust each other and let go of past misconceptions they’ve clung to for years. It’s clearly not going to be an easy road for them, as the obstacles set in their path just from this book, but I’m 100% rooting for #TeamLeoGem #TeamGeLo? Any better hashtag suggestions fellow shippers? If so, let me know so I can stop cringing at my inability to come up with one!
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I enjoyed Capture the Crown so much! Jennifer Estep just has a way of grabbing me and pulling me in and getting me invested on her heroine’s journey, and Capture the Crown was no exception. I was having trouble getting myself to read when I started this book, but I was quickly hooked and had a hard time putting this down to go to sleep! I just really liked seeing Gemma get caught up in court intrigue and spying and growing into her power as a princess of Andvari. And the romance! It was so slow burn it was painful, and I needed to pick up a true romance immediately after finishing this, but it was so good! I can’t wait to see it more developed in the next book. Estep has done a great job crafting a compelling, heroine-centered fantasy and laying down the groundwork for even bigger stakes in future books, and I can’t wait.

There are a few things I wanted to point out that kept me from fully loving this book. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it immensely and will absolutely be picking up a physical copy and pining for the sequel, but I do want to mention that I’m not sure this is that distinct of a book from the first trilogy. I just keep coming back to how masterfully Ilona Andrews continued their Hidden Legacy world while jumping from Nevada’s trilogy to Catalina’s and how different the two of them were while still being incredibly strong, and I’m not sure Gemma is all that different from Evie in the first trilogy? Maybe I’m wrong since I haven’t read those books in a while, but she feels really similar. Though Gemma does seem to be a little overly dramatic in her pronouncements about swearing to kill Leo and never trust him again, and I did have to roll my eyes a little bit. Also, as much as I love Leo, I still have some questions about their encounters as children that don’t totally add up for me? But like I said, I really enjoyed this book, and I’m very excited for book two. Why is May 2022 so far away?!
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